Bannon Turned Out to Be the Irreplaceable One

All outlets are reporting that after equivocating all day and all week, Trump has decided to pardon Steve Bannon (along with Eliot Broidy and Paul Erickson). Here’s the WaPo version:

President Trump has pardoned Stephen K. Bannon, the firebrand architect of his 2016 campaign who was charged last year with defrauding donors to a private fundraising effort for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a senior White House official involved in the process.

Trump approved Bannon’s pardon late Tuesday, after days of frantic deliberations. Some aides said as recently as Monday night that the move appeared unlikely. Trump vacillated throughout the day Tuesday, and even after he said he was going to sign off on the pardon, it remained unclear for some time that he would actually do so, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

WaPo correctly notes, it won’t be clear what this really means until we see how broadly it is written. The White House language seems to suggest it covers just the already charged crimes for fraud, though.

Stephen K. Bannon – President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.

If it just excuses his fraud charges in SDNY, it’ll end that federal prosecution, leave him open for state prosecution on the same crimes plus civil suits, and/or make him the star witness against his co-defendants.

If it is broader, it will cover some of Bannon’s activities leading up to the insurrection, something that is likely to make a Trump conviction in the Senate more likely (as the Bannon pardon may all by itself).

One way or another, it probably doesn’t end Bannon’s legal woes (there’s also an investigation into his foreign influence peddling). Plus, there’s still the matter of his grand jury testimony in the Mueller investigation, just some of which was unsealed for the Roger Stone trial.

But Bannon, alone among Trump’s closest associates, got a pardon after the coup attempt made such pardons more risky.

Which makes the reasons for the pardon all the more interesting.

Update: There’s been some chatter that Trump might issue his spawn or himself “pocket pardons,” which I think was irresponsible speculation. There’s no way a Trump pardon that is not formally lodged with DOJ by noon will be deemed valid.

That said, the means by which he pardoned Bannon (and others) would allow room for Trump to have pardoned Bannon for more than the existing fraud charges against him. While some of the pardons Trump signed last night enumerated the crimes, Bannon and Broidy were pardoned

It’s possible that DOJ “enumerated” other crimes for Bannon which would then be covered under this language.

I doubt it though — and in any case, everything will be lodged in the next day or so, presumably in time to be included in impeachment considerations in the Senate.

99 replies
  1. obsessed says:

    After Trump is out of office, I’d be curious to read about how you, were you Trump, would have most effectively used your powers to minimize your legal exposure. I get the sense that he didn’t handle it much better than he handled coronavirus.

        • timbo says:

          Yeah, I’m kind of surprised he didn’t. My thinking there is that he has some huge legal culpability somewhere if he were to even try it.

        • TooLoose LeTruck says:

          Beer Hall Putsch?

          More like the Beer Belly Putsch, from what I saw…

          And what’s even better?

          Trump didn’t pardon a single one of those pathetic fools on his way out the door… like he said right from the start… ‘You knew I was a snake when you let me in…’

        • Chris.EL says:

          From Dr.EW: … “There’s no way a Trump pardon that is not formally lodged with DOJ by noon will be deemed valid.” …
          Could Trump leave (lodge with DOJ)… a big envelope labeled: … “open only if directed to do so” ? (and said envelope could contain additional pardons) — seems doable. — sigh —

    • frank c tripoli says:

      I think Bannon suckered the loser….. got his ‘pardon’ and now will quickly abandon the stump….
      everyone but the stump knows he’s so over…. even the ‘proud boys’ shatted on him….
      the stump was ALWAYS in way over his head….. which is why he resorted to bizarreness so that he could appear relevant.
      EVERYONE used him….. so desperate for love he let them….. Melania, McConnell, the base, the thugs……
      The BIGGEST stooge ever….. and he deserves every disgrace heaped on him….. even princess Ivanks used him….
      a truly pathetic figure….. who now will live a life surrounded by Mar-the-Planet suck-ups and rich hags….

  2. chuck says:

    Feels like a wind vane pointing toward a last minute Assange one due to the comms between Bannon, Stone, and Assange…

  3. e.a.f. says:

    Perhaps Trump pardoned Bannon because he may have need of his services at some future date. Rudy, and others, not so much.

  4. Robot17 says:

    I know. Let’s play congressional testimony before the states circle in! How would that play when he either lies again, tries to claim the fifth on the charges he’s pardoned for or maybe has to flip. I can’t see this going well for him under almost any circumstances.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Trump announces he’s forming his own party thereby tanking whatever slim hope the Rs have of winning in the next few election cycles. McConnell has no choice but to convict under those possible scenarios. Trumpets go back to whatever instead of voting.

    Oh the drama hahaha!

    • cavenewt says:

      Is there any chance that splintering the Republican Party would finally force the remaining Republican Party to actually attract voters by doing Good Things, rather than gaming the rules and cheating as has been their strategy for several decades now?

      I’m probably hopelessly naïve, huh?

    • Dave_MB says:

      Trump’s not starting a new party unless he can be the figurehead and someone else does all the work and provides all the money.

  5. newbroom says:

    Bannon / and Russian operative ostrich jacket guy likely rich testimony possible. Ya, can’t remember shit.

  6. joel fisher says:

    If EW is correct–did I say “if”, what’s the matter with me?–and Bannon is looking at state charges for the same conduct, Trump must have known he wasn’t really giving him much relief. So why do it at all? All Trump can hope for with Bannon is gratitude and, perhaps, entrée into Bannon’s shady money world. I hear the ex-POTUS is going to be a little financially strapped with plenty of either good (“Cash in advance, please, Mr. President.”) or moron (Sure, Mr. President, I can bill you.) lawyers, airplanes, failing resorts, ex-wives, and more civil suits than you can shake a stick at. He’s got to have cash and plenty of it; and sooner rather than later. So it’s either Bannon (or possibly Broidy), some other (Has the “Stop the Steal” gravy train ended yet?) money source, or bankruptcy, voluntary or involuntary.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Keeping my eye on Broidy. I doubt he’s burned his bridges with the various Arab states, and his internecine ties with Trump go deep. Triangulates with Kushner in ugly ways, too.

        • Dave_MB says:

          And let’s not forget that Bannon was arrested on the $28 million yacht of an exiled Chinese billionaire.

  7. Dunnydone says:

    4 hours. Let’s hope karma and justice are patiently finishing their brunch just waiting to unload on this historically inept bag of Shit

    • skua says:

      DJT: ” … Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning.”

      Thanks for sharing that Donald, we all feel we know you a bit better now.
      A bit bound up with all the stress of the insurrection and the humiliation of losing after only one term are we?
      Take one satchel of Purelax every 45 minutes over 6 hours.

  8. Peterr says:

    I think perhaps the IRS should invite Mr. Bannon to file amended returns for the years during which he diverted money from Build The Wall to his personal individual bank accounts. I’m imagining a letter that says something like this:

    While you cannot be prosecuted any longer for filing false returns in the past, this does not absolve you from paying the taxes TODAY on what was misrepresented earlier. While the pardon may absolve you of penalties for filing a false return, it does not absolve you of paying the taxes you owe on that money, with interest.

    And we note in closing that should you misrepresent now how much you owe on income generated by the deeds for which you were pardoned that was not properly declared, that would be a new crime that is not covered by the grant of clemency you so recently received.

  9. Savage Librarian says:

    And I see that Jared’s buddy, Ken Kurson, is on the list, too. Hmm. I can’t help but think there is more to that story than meets the eye. But, then again, maybe not..

  10. Alan Charbonneau says:

    Bannon, Broidy, & Randall “Duke” Cunningham were the only names on the pardon list that I recognized. I’m glad to see Sheldon Silver and Joe Exotic weren’t on the list and neither were the insurrectionists.

    I sure hope that Bannon has additional legal troubles and ends up doing time or flips on Trump.

    As to Giuliani, Trump’s kids, & others not getting pardons, this is great news. Before January 6th, they might’ve gotten them. Should be interesting to see the legal system catching up with them, especially Giuliani.

    • Chris.EL says:

      Just came across this, from Twitter:
      “Scott Stedman
      Donald Trump Jr and Erik Prince lied to investigators, Rudy Giuliani is the subject of an expanding SDNY investigation.” …


      • Alan Charbonneau says:

        He’s updated this story:

        “I’m told that a subpoena to a Ukrainian businessman went out *after Christmas* in another sign that the SDNY probe into Rudy Giuliani is active and continuing.”

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Absolutely. Hauntingly beautiful. Last night’s glowing columns, too. Someone behind the design really knew what they were doing, and it didn’t hurt that God played along via the weather.

        • pasha says:

          yes, speer made a point of “inventing” the light columns in his autobiography. as i recall, he had to strip the flak units of their searchlight to get enough of them

        • Dave_MB says:

          I didn’t know that. Despite everything else, he was a good architect. And I’m with you that Nazi’s don’t have a monopoly on columns of light.

        • John Mc says:

          Had to comment here even though I don’t often, but follow and love this site. I and another graduate student in 1972 actually interviewed Speer at his then home in the suburbs of Heidelberg, as part of doctoral work at a German University. We couldn’t get the then acclaimed author of “Inside the Third Reich” and the purported Good Nazi to admit to his knowledge of any of the atrocities of the Hitler era, in which our research indicated he was undoubtedly aware of in which he had had probably participated. Later published documents have of course proven that he was totally complicit and involved. Makes one wonder what we might hear from Trump administration officials years from now.

    • Vinnie Gambone says:

      Biden visited the Korean and Vietnam war memorials in Philadelphia on a very rainy veterans day this year. For 20 years the senior class of LaSalle Highschool places 648 flags out at the PVVM. Biden saw them for sure. Be great to think the siight moved him, he remembered, and suggested the flags in DC himself. Its phenomenal seeing successive years of highschool kids taking on that job. It stays with them. Great teachers who make it happen . Pamela went to the Dogtag cafe in DC, and stood chatting with the staff there for 20 minutes also in a driving rain. Here’s to more uplifting moments.

  11. PeterS says:

    I wonder if Jen Psaki is looking forward to a time later today when she can deliver, with a smile, some version of the line: this was the smallest inauguration crowd in history, period.

      • Rugger9 says:

        That had to hurt DJT’s ego, boo fricken’ hoo.

        In a related topic, I wonder if McConnell will throw sand in the gears to slow the appointment of Biden’s appointees to the Cabinet to mess with the succession. It’s also not clear to me that given how many of the Cabinet appointees from DJT’s WH are not confirmed by the Senate, can they join the line?

        • JohnJ says:

          That’s easy as suggested elsewhere (can’t remember where).

          Acting Secretaries or Department heads H. Clinton, B. Clinton, Dole, Mueller, M. Obama, B. Obama.

          It would be the fastest confirmation in history for the actual candidates.

      • cavenewt says:

        Maybe the smallest goodbye crowd ever at Joint Base Andrews.

        Dozens! The most dozens ever in the world!

        (Sorry, just indulging my inner bitch.)

      • P J Evans says:

        Not much of a crowd at the WH, and I bet it vanished as soon as the windows on Marine 1 were invisible.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    Psst, if the pardon attorney hasn’t signed the pardons, they can be revoked. Also, federal employees who live and work in the D.C. area don’t have to work today… just saying

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, but things feel a lot better already. And today was such a stark contrast from the divisive hate that was the Trump inauguration four years ago. Night and day.

        • e.a.f. says:

          Lady Gaga sounded great. she has an amazing set of pipes. the dress was very, very cool.
          They all did a good job.
          It was just so nice and it felt so good to know he was gone and Biden/Harris were in. Oh, it is such a relief.
          Nice ceremony.
          Just watching it all was inspiring. You know the adults are in the room. they youngest Biden looked awfully cute
          Loved Bernie Saunders coat and mittens.
          Listening to the American anthem was good. Yes, not only were the flags still there, but so was the country, in one piece and looking like it was going to go the distance.

          I am sure there are people all over the world who feel a whole lot better once Biden/Harris were sworn in.

        • it's complicated says:

          And very much so!
          I had been extremely nervous since the election, about what Trump would try to destroy on his way out.
          Now, finally, sleeping better. Thank God this is over.
          Now T can finally fade away, hopefully to be punished or at least ruined financially. Sadly enough there remains the problem of the idiots he rode in on. No idea how this part will play out.

        • Rugger9 says:

          There’s always the sideshow of what she’s going to wear. Lately it looks like ball gowns, but the dove with the olive branch was a nice touch.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Listen to her sing with Tony Bennett. Those songs expose her vocal range, power and control for exactly what they are: startlingly impressive, especially if you thought of her as merely a pop act.

        • Zinsky says:

          Indeed. Her rendering of the Star Spangled Banner yesterday was in a class of its own, despite the fact it is an inherently bad patriotic song, riddled with unanswered questions and difficult to sing. Lady Gaga is a unique talent among current working female vocalists.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I’ve had a knot in my chest, nonstop, for the past 4 years…

        And it’s already going away.

        • pasha says:

          i feel like i’ve been holding my breath for four years and just getting used to the sensation of breathing deeply

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Yeah, me too. But just because we don’t have to hold our breath anymore doesn’t mean we should stop turning blue!

  13. BobCon says:

    It’s pretty striking he passed up some notable names but bailed out Stone and Bannon, the two with the best ability to engage with the most militant members of the mob.

    I am pretty much convinced Stone’s early freedom was not so much a reward as a summons for more dirty work. And I am curious if that is the point with Bannon too.

  14. SVFranklinS says:

    Rick Wilson made a comment reminding us Bannon was arrested on the yacht of Billionaire Guo Wengui, and Trump is in need of big bucks now that legit bankers are cutting him off; suggests it’s a matter to access to money.
    With Trump, it’s all about the money and the grift.

    • Rayne says:

      I have been wondering if all the negative press about China of late was really intended to provide cover for money backdoored from Chinese resources. Absolutely a grift 7/24/365.

        • e.a.f. says:

          China certainly laundered a lot of money through Canada they’re big in the fent. trade. Australian police agency’s refer to it as the “Vancouver model”.
          You’ll want to keep an eye out when they start to purchase a lot of homes, hotels, retirement living changes, shopping center.

        • tinao says:

          Hey Chris thanks. I sent it around to my family that would be interested, and hope to have a family discussion on it.

        • bmaz says:

          All I can say is that we all here try very hard to get things right. Not always what any person or view “wants” to hear, but what is right. While certainly not perfect, the endeavor holds up pretty darn well I think.

        • P J Evans says:

          A Chinese group – don’t know from where – bought a failing mall in the Bay Area. (It’s near where my sis lives.) They have plans, but so far none of them are happening. (First thing they should do is get traffic control on the road around the mall – it might be alive it it were easier to get in and out of.)

  15. CD54 says:

    If I was in charge of optics (dreaming) I would have several crews steam cleaning the exterior of every building on the White House complex.

  16. DAT says:

    The one that had me crying was “This land… “ , sung by J Lo. I’ve long thought that if we can’t have this song as our natl’ anthem we could at least sing it before every sports ball games.

    • Zwik says:

      That was a beautiful rendition, and the song has an uplifting message…and yet each time I hear it I can’t help wondering how it lands for Native Americans.

      • tinao says:

        Zwif, I see it as subtle seeds planted for the understanding of Native Americans and others that nobody really “owns” this land. IMHO much like The First People’s understanding of reality, owning the land is a colonizer’s belief, not theirs. It belongs to all of us in the sense that first, we belong to her. And yeah, she did a beautiful job on it!!! The whole day was awesome. My fav was, I think it was John Legend”s rendition of, Feeling Good. I had just listened to Nina Simon sing it the day before.

  17. Ada says:

    I am surprised that Ghislaine Maxwell was not pardoned by Trump. She offered to pay $28.5 million as bail and was refused by the judge. Wasn’t this amount enough for Trump, Rudy, and their acolytes?

    • Zinsky says:

      Yes, I was surprised as well. I thought she might be able to connect Trump to Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual misdeeds but maybe Trump reckons with Epstein dead, Maxwell is not a credible witness on her own, being a woman. Since Trump disdains women so.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I was surprised as well, but even though Kaiser Quisling (DJT) may not give a rat’s patootie about Maxwell (old news, can’t help DJT anymore), even Rudy understands the risk Ghislaine remains to KQ staying out of jail on Epstein-related peccadillos. Those could be federal charges since doubtless some state or federal borders were crossed to engage in that conduct.

        Recent changes to the law (as advertised on TV these days by several legal firms) have extended the statute of limitations on child abuse and so I do not think the clock will not run out fast enough for KQ. I would have expected Cipillone at least would have advised it and DJTJ or Jared (or some other henchman) would have spirited Maxwell beyond the reach of prosecutors.

    • tinao says:

      My gut feeling is the q anon crap is actually projection of those billionaire pedophile class people. : -) They don’t want that can of worms opened. Poof epstein is dead.

  18. adam says:

    What would be the downside to Trump of doing the pocket self-pardon? If he’s never charged, no one ever knows about it. If he is charged, he whips it out and makes DOJ litigate it. Maybe he wins, maybe he loses, but at a minimum the case will go to SCOTUS and takes a couple years to resolve, delaying any criminal trial in the meantime.

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